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Post: PBFD Info & Opinions

Posted by Jessica on 2/09/06

(7) Comments

    This post is intended only to be helpful in the discussion
    regarding PBFD infection. I don't personally know any of
    the parties involved, so I don't have any reason to favor
    one person's view over the other. Please don't crucify me
    for my opinions until you read the entire post...

    To Michael L (and others who were interested): There IS
    such a thing as "low level PBFD infection." Testing for
    PBFD cannot be compared to pregnancy testing. In a
    pregnancy test, you are looking for ONE thing, and that is
    either present or not present. In disease testing, there
    are multiple organisms (in this case, PBFD viral
    organisms), so there can be different amounts of this in
    each sample taken. Compare it to a fecal analysis for some
    parasite. One sample may contain approximately 10
    parasitic organisms while another may contain 1000. The
    testing facility may call the first case a "low level
    infection" due to the fact that there are not as many
    organisms present as in the other sample.

    You're right, Michael, in that the most common test for
    PBFD is done by PCR (polymerase chain reaction). PCR works
    by locating a small, specific sequence of DNA and
    multiplying it hundreds of thousands of times over. Since
    the virus is very small and any sample sent may contain
    billions of other DNA pieces (the bird's actual DNA, DNA of
    other environmental agents, DNA of any other organism the
    bird has), this multiplication is necessary in order to
    isolate the DNA of choice and verify that it is there (if
    it really is present). The multiplication process happens
    exponentially: a small amount of viral DNA in the original
    sample will result in a lot of DNA after the PCR process is
    completed, but a large amount of viral DNA in the orignal
    sample will result in HUGE amounts of DNA after the PCR
    process. This is how "low level" and "high level" can be

    So, with all that said, what does "low level infection"
    really mean? Well, it could mean a few different things.
    It could mean that the bird has recently been infected with
    PBFD, and the virus has not had the opportunity to
    reproduce to a large extent in the bird's body. It could
    also mean that the bird has had the virus for some time,
    but is mounting an effective immune response to it and is
    fighting it off. Or, it could also possibly mean that the
    sample taken for testing was contaminated AFTER it was
    taken from the bird, either by the person taking the sample
    (not washing instruments, hands, or the area the sample was
    taken from) or by the testing facility.

    To MKay: I understand your point in defending the health
    of your birds, due to the fact that you have not seen
    physical symptoms in your aviary. However, the lack of
    physical symptoms does not insure that you don't have PBFD
    virus somewhere in your home. If you have not tested every
    bird you've brought into your house and found them
    negative, then you cannot be sure that they do not have the
    disease. Also, if you are purchasing any bird related
    items from a place that also has birds (including food,
    cages, toys, perches, dishes, etc) and not thoroughly
    disinfecting them before they come in contact with your
    group, then there will always be a risk that there is
    something lurking. Instead of becoming immediately
    defensive, might I suggest doing an environmental swab of
    your main bird area(s) just to confirm that your area is
    clean? An environmental swab will not tell you which birds
    are infected (if there is an infection) or where it came
    from, but you would know that some sort of action should be
    taken. However, if it comes back clean, then you can
    breath a sigh of relief and have actual physical proof that
    the birds you sold were more than likely NOT infected when
    they were sold. The test costs $25 through Avian Biotech --
    a small price to pay for peace of mind.

    To Dottie: I'm sorry that you are going through this
    again, as I remember discussing PBFD with you several
    months ago. However, there are some points here that you
    should concentrate on, rather than immediately blaming the
    breeder of the birds. First of all, if you did not
    previously do environmental testing of the area where you
    keep your birds, then no amount of scrubbing will prove
    that things were completely disinfected after the formerly
    infected birds. Environmental swabs can be done by anyone,
    and it is affordable. Secondly, if the previously stated
    statistics were true about the number of birds your vet has
    tested for PBFD and the number of positive results, I, too,
    would be suspicious of the methods used by the vet when
    taking the samples. Every instrument used in the testing
    should be thoroughly sterilized before being reused, the
    vet should wash up, disinfect the exam table, and any
    packaging materials used to send the sample out should be
    new. Now, I could possibly see that if the greater
    majority of the birds this vet has tested that came back
    positive were from one aviary. If this is the case, and
    the testing was done in the vet's office, a VERY thorough
    disinfection of that office should have followed in order
    to prevent the vet's office being the place where birds
    come in contact with the virus. This has been known to
    happen on many occasions.

    If the lovebirds that you've tested have come back
    with "low level infection" of PBFD, then I would not
    immediately panic yet. Wait a few months (do NOT bring any
    other birds into the house at this time, just to be safe)
    and re-test them. Many low-level infections will re-test as
    negative for the virus. Patience may be the key in this

    To All -- Sorry to throw so much opinion into an
    intentionally informational post (and sorry it's so
    long!). I would hate to see this as turning into a breeder
    vs pet owner debate. Breeders and pet owners should be
    working TOGETHER to conquer this (and all other) avian
    disease. Without everyone' cooperation, it is really
    difficult to track down where any given bird has come into
    contact with the virus.

    Also, it is particularly important for breeders of small
    birds to follow through with any potential complaints from
    pet owners who have purchased birds from us. Mass testing
    CAN be expensive, and in order to keep up with it all,
    there is a lot of money involved. Pet owners do not
    understand this when purchasing a baby lovebird, and many
    people have told me, too, that my prices are too high. It
    is not until someone has had a negative experience like
    Dottie's first that they begin to understand more what goes
    into raising healthy birds.

Posts on this thread, including this one
  • PBFD Info & Opinions, 2/09/06, by Jessica.
  • Re: PBFD Info & Opinions, 2/09/06, by Michael L.
  • Re: PBFD Info & Opinions, 2/09/06, by MKay.
  • Re: PBFD Info & Opinions, 2/09/06, by Alison.
  • Re: PBFD Info & Opinions, 2/09/06, by Dottie.
  • Re: PBFD Info & Opinions, 2/09/06, by Jessica.
  • Re: PBFD Info & Opinions, 2/09/06, by MKay.